Froma Benerofe and Eric Goldstein Offer Insight on the Lay-Professional Relationship
On Wednesday, April 10, 2019, the Office of Alumni Affairs launched a new professional networking group for non-profit professionals at the Yeshiva University Museum. Froma Benerofe, chair of the Wurzweiler School of Social Work Board of Overseers, and Eric Goldstein, CEO of UJA-Federation of New York, discussed navigating, strengthening and celebrating the meaningful partnerships between professionals and volunteers in a conversation moderated by Daniel Forman, senior philanthropic advisor in YU’s Department of Institutional Advancement.
“Tonight’s discussion is so pertinent and exciting because no matter what area of non-profits we work in—whether it is fundraising, programming, administration or anything else—we all work with and as volunteers and professionals every day. Learning to both be a volunteer and relate to volunteers is paramount to our success,” said Dina Burcat, director of alumni professional development, as she introduced the new network.
Forman, who served as YU’s vice president of institutional advancement from 1995 to 2016, praised Benerofe and Goldstein as being “uniquely positioned for this conversation” for having extensive experience in both the professional and lay leader arenas.
Now in private practice, Benerofe was a professional clinical social worker specializing in trauma with the Westchester Jewish Community Services (WJCS) from 1997 to 2007. A past president of WJCS, she continues to serve on its board of directors.
A longtime active member in the Jewish community, Goldstein served in a number of senior lay positions before being appointed UJA-Federation’s CEO in 2014. Before accepting that position, he was a leading partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.
Benerofe and Goldstein shared stories of both successful and challenging lay-professional relationships and discussed strategies for improving communication and efficacy. Upon assuming the role of UJA-Federation CEO, Goldstein maintained a very positive partnership with his president, for which he credited their “shared vision, shared values and clear understanding of roles.” Benerofe, who continued in her lay position as president of WJCS for an extra year upon the arrival of a new CEO, recalls the relationship’s productivity as a result of “tremendous respect, tremendous trust and shared passion.”
Yet, as many with long careers have found, both panelists had experienced less effective pairings, where communication was unsatisfactory and expectations less clear.
“It’s important to have a conversation so there’s a clarity of roles,” Benerofe explained. To ensure that clarity, Goldstein revealed that at UJA, there’s a focus on lay leadership development in addition to professional development, which helps cultivate skills.
Benerofe agreed that this strategy is paramount: “Organizations that take board orientation and training seriously are among the most successful.”
The Non-Profit Networking Group joins a number of groups the Office of Alumni Affairs hosts for alumni and friends who work in finance, technology, real estate, law and accounting. These groups provide education on important topics and connect participants with people who can open doors, serve as mentors and make introductions.
Interested in joining a professional networking group? Visit www.yuprofessionalnetworking.com to learn more.